I had a couple of things that I was going to write about this week, but then Jim Bertram’s passing eclipsed all that.
Many of your readers will know that Jim and I were at the opposite ends of the political spectrum from all of the sparring that we did in Letters to the NG Times. Jim was one of those rare individuals that you could discuss things together without rancour, even though we often disagreed. There was a sort of wry humour that was always present at times throughout our conversations.
The really interesting thing was that there were also many things that we could agree on, which I think helped in the discussions on things on which we had different views. Jim proved that it is possible to talk to the other side because of the respect that he had for other opinions, which always shone through.
A couple of times we had discussions at my front door, and the neighbours would ask me afterwards “Wasn’t that Jim Bertram?”. When I confirmed that, they were often perplexed, because of what they had seen in the papers between the two of us. I told them that Jim was one of those rare Conservatives that you could actually talk to, and discuss things rationally. I have always admired him for that. I have Conservative friends who are reluctant to talk about issues with me, and I have to use Jim as an example that we can disagree, but can still be friends.
Jim was often nostalgic about how his Party looked like it was abandoning many of its values in the process of swinging to the Right. We occasionally discussed those values that had been usurped, and I often found that while I didn’t agree with some of them, there were still a lot that I could live with.
Jim was always a gentleman, and I am going to miss our conversations, as infrequent as they were. I am also going to miss him.